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Daily News - Wednesday, 30 April 2014

President Medina leaves for Mexico
President Danilo Medina left for Merida, Mexico yesterday, Tuesday 29 April to attend the Sixth Summit of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).

He was accompanied by the Administrative Minister of the Presidency, Jose Ramon Peralta, Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo, Minister of Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul, Youth Minister Jorge Minaya, Santo Domingo East mayor Juan de los Santos and Left United Movement (MIU) president Miguel Mejia.

At the summit, as well as discussing cooperation, tourism, transport and infrastructure issues they will also be examining the Petion-Ville Action Plan, which was a fundamental agreement at the previous summit in Haiti, and also two of the French overseas departments, Guadeloupe and Martinique will be admitted as new members of the ACS.

The ACS currently has 25 members: Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Dominican Republic, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

The ACS was set up in July 1994 and its aim is for consultation, cooperation and concerted action in common areas such as commerce, transport, sustainable tourism and natural disasters in the Greater Caribbean area.



Medina visits bottling plant
After his arrival in Merida yesterday, Tuesday 29 April to attend the Sixth Summit of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) President Medina went directly to visit a factory belonging to Bepensa, the Coca Cola bottling plant in Yucatan.

Medina was welcomed by brothers Fernando, Ignacio and Jose Luis Ponce, who had invited him earlier this month when he attended the launch of two new production lines at Bepensa in the Dominican Republic, where they have been operating for seven years, employing 2,000 people out of the 15,000 they have worldwide.

He spoke to the executives and heard the history of the country and about their brand and market activity as well as the technology they used.

President Danilo Medina also took to opportunity to talk to three of the Dominican employees, Yordany Guerrero, Naviz Martin and Victor Santana, out of the six who work there.

The Bepensa executives the President met included Jose Maria Casares Camara, CEO Bepensa, Tomas Hernandez Fuertes, General Manager of Bepensa Industries, Alejandro Herrera Glen, Director of the Supply Chain, Rafael Vazquez Leon, Corporate Affairs Manager, Bepensa Drinks, Felipe Solis, Corporate Affairs Manager, Silvino Milina, Operations Manager Bepensa Drinks and Carlos Herrera, Supply Chain Manager for the Yucatan.


President Medina meets with Prime Minister of St. Martin
President Danilo Medina met with the prime minister of Saint Martin, Sarah Wescott-Williams before a dinner hosted by the President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto, for the Heads of State and Governments who were attending the Sixth Summit of the Association of Caribbean States (AEC) yesterday, Tuesday 29 April.

Wescott-Williams said that the part Dutch, part French island received 2.8 million tourists a year and said she was interested in exploring potential for the Dominican Republic to supply the fresh produce they needed. Medina replied that he wanted to work closely with her to provide all that the island required and recommended a mission from the Dominican Republic travel to St. Martin.

Medina also suggested coordinating a meeting with Aruba, Curacao, St Martin and the Netherlands to look at increasing business between them including air and sea routes.


Debt on the rise
The Audit Committee has announced that public debt increased in 2013 by 5.9% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reaching 39.5% compared to 36.6% last year.

This represents an increase of RD$215,228 over 2012, ending the year at RD$989,676 million.

Interviewed by journalists, the Audit Committee chair Licelot Marte de Barrios said that there were still many weaknesses in the public institutions when it came to the management of their budgets including incomplete records, difference between one record and another and often they were unable to check the veracity of certain figures. She reiterated the importance of public institutions being more open and transparent when it came to budgeting and said there should be more accountability.



Growth forecast at 5% this year
The United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has reduced its growth projections for the region this year from 3.2% to 2.7%, citing less economic expansion in Brazil and Mexico than anticipated.

In its Updated Economic Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean 2013, ECLAC said that the downward revision of the growth forecast was also due to uncertainty in the world economic situation.

Panama is the country in the region that will grow most in 2014 n 7% - while at the other extreme the Venezuelan economy will contract by an estimated 0.5 percent.

Brazil and Mexico, the region's two main economies, will grow this year by 2.3% and 3%, respectively, less than estimated by ECLAC in its December outlook.

ECLAC forecasts growth of 5.5% in Bolivia and Peru and a 5% expansion for Ecuador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

On the international level, ECLAC said that while macroeconomic indicators in developed countries, especially the United States, South Korea, Germany and Britain, have rallied, caution persists concerning the status of China, one of Latin America's main trading partners.

In addition, the organization predicts that demand for raw materials, especially minerals and food products, will continue to tighten, something that - combined with the appreciation of currencies among the developed economies - "would cause commodity prices to drop modestly."


New service from Banco Popular
Banco Popular has announced a new service called Subagent Popular, the first of its kind allowing more Dominicans to access financial services.

It will be launched at more than 200 approved outlets that allow pharmacies, hardware stores, gas stations or convenience stores to carry out financial transactions.

Initially people will be able to pay loans and credit cards, buy minutes for their cell phones and deposit and withdraw cash from virtual prepaid accounts.

The new system is the result of a partnership with tPago owned by GCS Systems and Banco Popular and is based on a successful model used in other countries in Latin America with the aim of bringing banking to the 60% of Dominicans who do not have a bank account at present.


Increase in age of vehicle imports
Yesterday, Tuesday 29 April, the Chamber of Deputies changed the law to increase the age of manufacture of imported vehicles to the country from five years to seven years.

The proposal was introduced to National Congress by a group of Senators following a request from members of the National Vehicle Distributors Association (Anadive).


Improvement dealing with drug dealers
National Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo has commended the work carried out by the Central Anti-Narcotics Bureau (DICAN) under the command of Colonel Carlos Fernandez Valerio, with over 1,000 kilos of different drugs being confiscated, according to figures given to Listin Diario.

The main drugs confiscated were cocaine, crack, marijuana and prohibited pharmaceuticals, some in large quantities as well as smaller amounts from drug sales points and street sellers. Castro Castillo said that never before had the Police collected such a high quantity of drugs from the streets. He added that the fight against and control of small-scale drug trafficking was one of the promises the National Police made as part of the Integrated Citizen Security Plan, set up by the government last year.

He highlighted that around 8,000 suspects had been arrested and sent to trial between July 2013 and April 2014.

Colonel Fernandez Valerio said that his agents were working around the clock throughout the country to fight the war on drugs and said that in 2011, 2012 and up to June 2013 DICAN had confiscated around 709,500 grams of drugs but in only the last 10 months, from July 2013 to April 2014, they had confiscated more than a million grams, which is 1000 kilos, thanks to their work.

But his work was not just the fight against the drug dealers but also against the violence and crime that it generated. He said that fights between and deaths among gang members had reduced and around 50 minors had been rescued, some as young as 12, who were being used as delivery boys by the drug dealers.


Conjugal visits for women prisoners
The Rafey Correction and Rehabilitation Center for Women has inaugurated conjugal visit cells with the objective of integrating the family and enabling women who are in jail to have conjugal relations.

The conjugal cells will be available at specific times and the couples must meet certain requirements including HIV examinations and other medical examinations to ensure they and their visitors are in good health.

According to Center Director Sugeidy Alvarez, the visiting times are for men to meet with their partners and to reestablish the bond they had before she was imprisoned.

Ysmael Paniagua, National Coordinator of the New Model Prisons said that conjugal relations would help with the stability of the partnership and hence the family even though one member had been deprived of their liberty. She said that they did not work in a prison, they worked with people who were in prison and this would help them prepare for their freedom.

During the inauguration there was a show organized by the Rafey authorities and inmates including a Christian dance, a performance by a band called Fusion, made up of male and female inmates, and a play by one of the female prisoners called "I want you to make love to me". The event ended with a fashion show featuring clothes made with recycled materials.

The inauguration was attended by Ysmael Paniagua, National Coordinator of the New Model Prisons, Patricia Lagombra, Deputy Coordinator of the New Model Prisons, Victor Gonzalez, Prosecutor for the Court of Appeal in Santiago and Sentencing Judge Ruben Dario Uzeta. Representatives of the legal authorities, church members, cultural representatives, family members and inmates were also present.

One of the female inmates said that she was happy as in the past only the male inmates had been allowed conjugal visits.


El Informe stops broadcasting
According to the Noticias SIN website, the television program featuring investigative journalist Alicia Ortega, El Informe, has been temporarily taken off the air after nine years.

Noticias SIN states that it hopes the show will begin transmitting again but on another channel.

It goes on to say that the program has aired for nine years, which was 108 months, 432 Mondays, one after the other, without concern for the consequences. In the name of the whole team they thanked the viewers for watching and for all of the national and international awards the program had received.


Pablo Milanes at the Book Fair
The 2014 Santo Domingo Book Fair on the grounds of the Plaza de la Cultura is dedicated to Dominican poet Domingo Moreno Jimenez. Panama is the guest country.

The Book Fair features a series of cultural activities and artistic performances.

The highlight of the week will be three shows by Cuban singer-songwriter Pablo Milanes. The legendary singer will entertain audiences on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (1-3 May) at the National Theater. The shows will begin at 7:30pm. All Book Fair shows are free.

For more on the program, see www.ferilibro.com/2k7/images/programa%202014%20pdf%20final.pdf

For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar

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